New Zealand Tragedy – Over 140 Pilot Whales Die In Mass Stranding

Source: The Guardian/Eleanor Ainge Roy

Photo: NOAA/Wikimedia Commons

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More than 140 pilot whales have died on a remote New Zealand beach, the latest in a recent string of whale strandings and deaths in the country.

On Saturday night the Department of Conservation [DoC] was informed of a mass whale stranding in Mason Bay on Stewart Island.

A hiker camping in the remote location told authorities of the tragedy, with the number of whales equating to two pods.

DOC Rakiura operations manager Ren Leppens said at least half of the whales were dead by the time staff arrived at the scene.

“Sadly, the likelihood of being able to successfully refloat the remaining whales was extremely low. The remote location, lack of nearby personnel and the whales’ deteriorating condition meant the most humane thing to do was to euthanise,” said Leppens. “However, it’s always a heartbreaking decision to make.”

The local Māori, tribe, Ngāi Tahu, is now working with DOC to bless the dead whales and make plans for burial of the bodies.

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Photo: NOAA/Wikimedia Commons

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